Where to Find Seattle’s Best Beaches — Both Salt and Fresh Water!
Seattle may be situated next to a body of salt water, but it’s not the open ocean (hi, Puget Sound!) and so the traditional beach-going experience is different in Seattle. You won’t find crashing waves next to miles upon miles of sandy shoreline.
What you will find are pockets of sand or pebbles next to bustling urban areas or alongside tree-lined walking trails and picturesque parks. Gaze out at the water and marvel at how calm it is compared to the open ocean; a perfect surface for kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. After experiencing the best beaches in Seattle, you may not want to go back to the wild waves of Washington’s Pacific coastline!
So where do you find these excellent Seattle beaches? Some are located within the city limits, while others are located just outside it in the northern and eastern suburbs of Seattle.
Best Salt Water Beaches in Seattle
Alki Beach is a gorgeous area in the hipster-approved West Seattle neighborhood that is located across a bridge south of downtown Seattle. Alki Beach is the jewel of West Seattle with a long stretch of pebbly sand framed by the sparkling Puget Sound on one side and rows of million dollar homes and seafood eateries and bars on the other side.
Alki Beach is the closest thing you’ll get to to a “SoCal” beach in Seattle, in that it’s a fairly long stretch of coastline, has a boardwalk, and is right next to shops and restaurants that have a surfer vibe (ok, make that a SUP vibe with decidedly Pacific Northwestern twist — you do need to head to the actual coast for surfing!)
Marina Beach Park in Edmonds
Another beach that has real sand is in Edmonds, a suburb located about thirty minute north of Seattle. You’ll find this at Marina Beach Park beach, which has a picturesque beach by a picnic area and playground plus old tree trunks laying around that make for a perfect place to sit (or for the kiddos to climb on).
In addition to the sand, the beach looks out to the Olympic Mountain Range to the west and is flanked by harbors home to yachts and sailboats.
Rockaway Beach Park on Bainbridge Island
Catch the car ferry (right by the Seattle Aquarium) and a short thirty minutes later you’ll disembark on Bainbridge Island, an island so close many residents who live there commute to downtown, yet it feels a world away.
A great beach to visit on Bainbridge Island is Rockaway Beach Park on the southeast end of the island. It has a rugged walking trail and if you’re planning to wade in the water you’ll want to bring water shoes since this beach is made up of tiny pebbles. The lack of sand is worth it, though, for the views of Seattle across the way and the chance to see the sea critters who get stuck among the rocks in tidepools when the tide is out.
Another place you can take the ferry to (car or pedestrian) is Whidbey Island. Take the ferry from Edmonds and get off about forty minutes later in Whidbey Island where you can drive to gorgeous Double Bluffs beach.
This beach has incredible views of Mount Rainier on a clear day. It is also home to an expansive sandy area that backs to dramatic cliffs. This beach is also dog-friendly and your canine friend can run around without a leash on while there.
Best Lake Beaches in Seattle
I don’t only have salt water beaches on this list. Yes, a couple of the best beaches around Seattle are actually situated on lakes, but I recommend you travel to the Eastside of Seattle to find them; the Eastside is the term given to the suburbs situated between Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.
Marina Beach in Kirkland is particularly alluring on a clear day since you can see across Lake Washington to the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle. The beach is small, but has a narrow strip of sand and a larger grassy area next to the sand, making it ideal for those who don’t want to leave a Seattle beach covered in sand or dirt.
Kirkland’s Marina Beach is also within walking distance to downtown Kirkland, a pretty urban area full of high-end shops, ritzy restaurants, and sidewalks overlooking the water.
Lake Sammamish State Park
Lake Sammamish State Park massively updated its beach area and adjacent playground a few years ago and it’s now one of the best beaches in the Seattle area. It has a huge space filled with sand, which is in walking distance to picnic benches and a brand new playground, making it great for families (the playground is even inspired by Washington and nature!). The beach is right next to a swimming area and you also may see people launching kayaks and stand up paddle boards from the dock next to the beach. There is a separate entrance for those looking to launch a fishing or motor boat in the large lake.
A bonus for those who like to play in water without a wetsuit or shivering is that Lake Sammamish warms up quite a bit in the summer months, unlike Lake Washington and the Puget Sound which tend to stay pretty chilly year-round. and also close to a launching point for kayaks and boats.
Fresh or Salty, the Best Beaches in Seattle Are Waiting For You!
The best beaches in Seattle have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a quintessential beach experience with towels laid out on the sand or a more adventurous one that is ideal for water sports or looking for sea life. One thing the best beaches in Seattle all have in common is that they are privy to amazing views.